New Hampshire Voters Suddenly Lonely

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New Hampshire Voters Suddenly Lonely
by Joe Lavin


(MANCHESTER, NH) -- Just days after New Hampshire's first-in-the-
nation presidential primary, many New Hampshire residents are already
experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms as the presidential candidates
have deserted the state. "Yeah, sure, I miss them," Dale Everhart, a 33-
year-old snowmobile technician from Manchester, said on Wednesday.
Up until then, talking with candidates had become a normal part of his
daily routine, but suddenly all the candidates were gone. "You know,
you invest so much energy in a relationship like that. And then they
leave just like that. Without even a phone call. It's not right," Everhart
said.

Others across the state feel just as saddened. "I'm not mad at them for
leaving," 73-year-old Ida Murphy of Nashua said. "I know they have to
move on, but it does hurt." Seldom a day went by when Murphy did not
see at least one of the candidates, but for the last two days her front
porch has been entirely devoid of politicians. "Its just weird. I got so
used to them being there. They were always dropping by, asking for my
vote. Sure, it was strange at first, but after a while they started to feel like
family."

On those frequent visits, the candidates would usually discuss their
policies and beliefs, but often it was the little things that made the
difference. "One day, Gary Bauer asked me what I was looking for in a
president," Murphy said. "Jokingly, I said, someone to clean my
windows, and he actually got up there and cleaned them himself. Then,
when I told him I was still leaning towards Bush, he even scrubbed my
kitchen floor. That's the kind of man we need in the White House."

People in other states simply cannot hope to have that sort of personal
access to a presidential candidate, and that's part of what makes New
Hampshire so special. Murphy's sister Meredith, for example, became a
Bill Bradley supporter last fall when Bradley began delivering groceries
to her every week. "That's the kind of personal attention I want as a
voter," she said. "Sure, Al Gore offered to have the secret service do my
ironing, but it just wasn't the same."

"Together, we can all make a difference and show the country that old
politics is at last dead," Bradley told her on Tuesday just before she
went to vote. "Oh, they were out of one percent milk, so I had to get the
two percent instead. Hope that's okay," he added.

Of course, it was not just the candidates who were talking to voters; so
was the media. Ted Shriver, a 47-year-old electrician from Concord,
maintains that he participated in over four hundred opinion polls during
the campaign. While such constant polling seems like it would an
inconvenience, Shriver, like many in New Hampshire, enjoyed the
opportunity to share his views.

"Usually, around ten in the morning, someone from Fox News would call
to find out who I was supporting. At noon, it would be a CNN poll, and
then CBS would call at the end of the day. Plus sometimes reporters from
the New York Times or Washington Post would stop by to ask
questions. I loved it. Now, of course, nobody cares at all what I think.
My phone hasn't rung for two days," he said with a sigh.

Perhaps, though, New Hampshire business owners will miss the
campaign the most. Owners of television and radio stations are still busy
counting all the money they made from political commercials, while most
hotels did not have vacancies for months. Owning a hotel has been a
lucrative business indeed. Not only were hotels able to rent rooms to
political handlers and the press, but as an added bonus many celebrity
journalists would often book additional rooms just for their egos alone.
"Sam Donaldson was up here last week, and his ego took up an entire
wing! It was great! We made all sorts of money." George McGee,
manager of the Portsmouth Hilton, said.

Finally, of course, there were the town meetings. It is impossible to talk
about the New Hampshire primary without mentioning the ever-present
town meeting. Just about everywhere you turned for the past twelve
months, some candidate seemed to be holding a town meeting. For 73-
year old Edgar Littleton of Laconia, the town meetings are what he will
miss the most. "I just loved the town meetings," he gushed. "They really
gave us a chance to get to know the candidates on a personal level and
truly understand their proposals. Plus, they got me out of the house and
away from the wife."

Littleton estimated that he had attended over 350 town meetings during
the last year -- an average of almost one a day. "My wife can be really
scary sometimes," he explained.

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